As you may recall, I recommended Just Jack’s “Starz In Their Eyes” a few weeks ago as an example of how disco still shapes British pop music. For those of you who tune out as soon as disco is mentioned, I’m happy to report that Jack’s latest single, “Glory Days”, isn’t much like “Starz” at all.

Just Jack – Glory Days


What this song does is sound as a beckoning trumpet that summer is nearly here. Every year has a “summer song”. You tend not to be able to remember them once November rolls around, but they still exist for the simple purpose of getting you to think about summer, providing a soundtrack for beach days and barbecues. It’s not hard to think about summer here in Florida, where it’s already 83 and sunny, but I imagine in other places that this song can serve as a welcome mental break here in late March.


Every Monday, we’ll go over the newly-released UK Singles chart, looking for gold. One thing to remember: the UK chart is based strictly on the single’s sales figures. Radio plays/requests/record company payoffs are not taken into account like on the Billboard charts. The UK chart also just recently started accounting for digital downloads from iTunes and other download sites in the Singles chart.

The results are still in favor of the Comic Relief singles, which is nice for the poor people but what about the people trying to write a blog about interesting music? Those songs just aren’t good enough to write about again… oh well, if I must.

1. The Proclaimers/Billy Potter/Andy Pipkin – (I’m gonna be) 500 Miles

Radio 1 started playing this more in the past week. Do I still dislike it? Absolutely. Did I get a little chuckle when I heard the wheelchair guys sing “I will roll 500 miles” instead of “walk”? Yeah, unfortunately. Disability gags always get me. I still won’t help you steal charity music, but you can watch the video.

2. Sugababes Vs Girls Aloud – Walk This Way

You must have a really bad song when two comedians in wheelchairs singing karaoke to a 90s one-hit wonder beats you.

3. Avril Lavigne – Girlfriend

Good news: there’s a new song. Bad news: it’s Avril Lavigne. I don’t mind “Girlfriend”. I just think it sounds like every other song she’s ever done. This chart position was probably bolstered by her appearing all over the UK last week in various ways.

4. Gwen Stefani ft Akon – The Sweet Escape

This video is on VH1 every day when I wake up. Today, I had a thought: Akon really doesn’t do much for his image as a former meth dealer with his appearance in that video, does he? Didn’t he get “locked up”? Yeah, right.

5. Alex Gaudino ft Crystal Waters – Destination Calabria

Not bad as far as a dance record goes. I’d never heard of Alex Gaudino before and I thought Crystal Waters fell into the same 90s abyss as the Proclaimers. But with the ascension of  “Destination Calabria” comes the descent of “How to Save a Life”, down all the way to… #6.

This week’s Track of the Week comes from The Twang, a band generating some powerful buzz over the past few months. The BBC at the beginning of the year has this annoying practice of tipping bands that will be hot in the coming year (even ranking them in order of hotness). For 2007, Mika was #1 and obviously drove a lot of his popularity in the first part of the year. The Twang also appeared on that list and from their first single, it sounds like a good choice.

The Twang – Wide Awake

The sound, at least the opening riff, is catchy and doesn’t quite sound like British rock. They almost sound (gulp!) American… until the lyrics start, of course. A blog I read frequently, Ben’s Events, has a great review of The Twang live when he caught them in London earlier this month. It’s not often you hear of a band described as a cross between Oasis and the Streets. Interesting indeed.

Chart Monday!

Every Monday, we’ll go over the newly-released UK Singles chart, looking for gold. One thing to remember: the UK chart is based strictly on the single’s sales figures. Radio plays/requests/record company payoffs are not taken into account like on the Billboard charts. The UK chart also just recently started accounting for digital downloads from iTunes and other download sites in the Singles chart.

Ok, there are certain weeks in the year where outside agencies take control of the chart, skewing the results. This is one of those weeks. Comic Relief, a huge anti-poverty charity campaign in Britain, does many things to raise money (unofficial slogan: “Give a quid, save a kid. Give another, save his brother”). One of which is to have a single or two released for their benefit. Two of those singles dominated the charts this week. When you hear them, you will agree that they sold so well because of the charity angle and not for any musical genius. I couldn’t find copies of the actual tracks. Besides, you shouldn’t be stealing from charity.

1. Sugababes vs. Girls Aloud – Walk This Way

Yes, this is a remake of the Aerosmith/Run DMC joint starring the two most popular girl groups in the UK. I heard an interview with Steven Tyler about this song and his reaction was something to the effect of “This is for charity, right? Well, that’s something good about it.” There is one standard rule when it comes to Girls Aloud: the video is worth watching.

2. Gwen Stefani feat. Akon – The Sweet Escape


3. The Proclaimers feat. Billy Potter and Andy Pipkin – (I’m Gonna Be) 500 Miles


This is the second Comic Relief single, resurrecting The Proclaimer’s hit from the mid 90s. It features two comedians (Potter I’ve never heard of, Pipkin is the guy in the wheelchair from Little Britain) basically singing karaoke. Interesting sidenote: people looking to download this song for charity sometimes mistakenly downloaded the original version, so much so that the original reappeared on the chart at #37! That’s right, a reappearance on the chart after 10+ years.

4. Take That – Shine

It might make it back to #1 when all this weird stuff goes away next week.

5. The Fray – How to Save a Life

I’m petitioning the BBC to rename the #5 spot “The ‘How to Save a Life’ #5 single”.

Weekend Retro

I’ve decided to add a new weekly feature, entitled the Weekend Retro. I’ll post somewhere in the weekend as my work schedule permits.

In the Weekend Retro, we’ll explore some artists that are or were huge in Britain at the time but, for whatever reason, didn’t gain any traction here in the US. I think it’s important to know these people and bands because A.) They may come out with something new (a la Take That) or B.) The band may be very influential to the current crop of British artists (see The Libertines).

The first Weekend Retro is about the life and times of Robbie Williams.

American music fans view Sir Bob as a sort of cult leader, with the cult being the rest of the world. He is the Michael Jackson of the UK (minus the pedophilia, I think), selling more albums and winning more BRIT awards than anyone else in history. He is also the most popular non-latino performer in Latin America, according to Wikipedia. He’s also huge in Japan (I just had to get that one in there). For some reason, that success never translated here. Now it seems a national pastime not to like him, especially after his recent stint in rehab.

You may remember “Millennium” or “Angels”, his two Top 100 singles here. Unfortunately, most people think “Angels” is an original Jessica Simpson song. That’s Robbie’s luck here.

Robbie Williams – Millennium.mp3


Robbie Williams – Angels.mp3

“Millennium” was my first case of “I heard it first” in regards to BritPop. When I was a teenager, I spent a lot of time online (obviously, still do). But the family computer was out in the living room, so to drown out the sounds of the TV, I would listen to the fledgling radio stations broadcasting online. One of them was CapitalFM in London. “Millennium” was probably the first song I heard from the UK that I thought might have a chance here. The song did, his American album debut The Ego Has Landed didn’t.

Another personal Robbie story. In college I had a roommate from London. Robbie was touring to support that album, playing various small amphitheaters and clubs. He ended up playing the Hard Rock in Orlando, and my roommate and I went. It’s a standing-room only floor, and we were no less than 3 feet from the stage. My roommate couldn’t believe that you could get that close to (what he considered) the most popular artist in the world for a $10 ticket here in the US. Land of plenty, indeed.

Last year he released a dance/electro album, Rudebox. The singles from it haven’t been spectacular and have even been greeted in Britain with a shrug. He’s lived in LA for the last few years, and I think that has a direct correlation to when his music started going south. I think he’s too focused on breaking the US market that he’s putting out stuff that really isn’t up to par, trying to figure out the American “formula”. But when you had the kind of success he had earlier, it’s hard to keep that going. He’s surprised people just by being as successful as he is, so another surprise from him isn’t impossible.

Robbie Williams – Lovelight.mp3

Track of the Week!

So I teased it on Monday. This week’s Track of the Week is:

Calvin Harris – Acceptable in the 80s

So, what was acceptable in the 80s?  A short list:

  • Cocaine use
  • Shoes with no socks on
  • Lily Allen’s hair
  • (girls) Long sweaters with a belt holding it together
  • Mr. T

If you have any more ideas, put in a comment.

More importantly, why does it matter what a DJ from Scotland thinks was acceptable? Musically, I don’t know why I like this song. I can say that listening to British music has reawakened an appreciation for dance/electronic music that I haven’t had since the days of Prodigy and the Chemical Brothers. There was some great stuff last year, including Fedde Le Grand’s “Put Your Hands Up for Detroit” and Mason’s “Perfect”. “Acceptable” is on track to being one of those kinds of tracks for this year. It’s a dance track that doesn’t get annoying if you hear it more than once a day (which is good, because it’s played just as much as Justin Timberlake these days). And everyone likes to reminisce. Let’s face it, this song just made you think about the 80s.

The video, however, is simply unacceptable.

Chart Monday!

Hey all. Sorry for the lack of posts last week. Busy at the real job. Let’s see if there’s some gold in that there chart today.

Every Monday, we’ll go over the newly-released UK Singles chart, looking for gold. One thing to remember: the UK chart is based strictly on the single’s sales figures. Radio plays/requests/record company payoffs are not taken into account like on the Billboard charts. The UK chart also just recently started accounting for digital downloads from iTunes and other download sites in the Singles chart.

Nope, there isn’t:

1. Take That – Shine

I wonder if the same teenage girls that threw their underwear at them in 1993 will turn into 30-ish yeah old women throwing underwear at them this time around. Ah, the circle of life.

2. Gwen Stefani feat Akon – The Sweet Escape

Let me echo my sentiment from last week, and up the ante a little bit: I will personally pay for the recording time of a new No Doubt album (including the inevitable Timbaland production fee) if this song is immediately ripped off the air.

3. Kaiser Chiefs – Ruby

The Kaiser’s ongoing tour is what’s keeping them in the top 5 in sales. It’s just that simple. I didn’t even hear it played that much on Radio 1 last week.

4. Justin Timberlake – What Goes Around Comes Around

Finally, a new song to talk about: The Most Played Song in the Universe. Believe it or not, sometimes Radio 1 plays things that I choose not to listen to, like English rap by a guy from Islington. (I’ve been to Islington. There’s nothing to rap about there.) Anyway, when I switch away from my radio home and go to some of the American Sirius channels, this song gets played every 30 minutes. Then I’ll go back to Radio 1 later in the day, and this song gets played every 30 minutes. Not a bad song, and a hot video, but I just can’t seem to escape it!

5. The Fray – How to Save a Life

Mid-march. Still in the top 5. Looks like I’m right on track for my proclamation from last week. “Mark my words: this will be on the official Top 40 list in June.”

So because there wasn’t much new this week, I’m starting a new Chart Monday feature: The Song That Should Have Been Higher!

The Song That Should Have Been Higher this week is:

17. Calvin Harris – Acceptable in the 80’s

What was acceptable in the 80’s? Find out in Track of the Week this week.